“Keep it together,” I whispered to myself as I took a steady breath trying to keep my nerves at bay.
Mack, had a way of keeping a person on edge and it had been a long lunch. My nerves felt shot, I didn’t know how much I could take.
I just wanted to leave, to be away from Mack’s acrimony before I said something I wasn’t supposed to. It was difficult to navigate a situation when I didn’t know exactly what was going on.
I let out an emotional breath, trying to expel my fear and anxiousness.
And then there was Connor. He had been patient up to this point but if I didn’t get in touch with him soon and explain my strange behavior the cavalry would show up soon. It was something I couldn’t afford to happen.
I gripped the sink as I stared at my reflection in the mirror.
“You can do this,” I whispered, trying to build up the courage to leave the bathroom and return to the living room where I had left Sin with Sienna and Mack.
I wanted to be anywhere but here. Even the thought of facing Mack again might me feel slightly nauseous.
There was a knock at the door.
The sound of Sin’s voice swept relief through me. I opened the door to see his concerned face.
I nodded. “Yeah. I was about to head back.”
The fact that he had come to check on me made me love him a little more than before.
He touched my cheek. “You look a little pale.”
“I’m good. “ I gave him a reassuring smile.
“You ready to go back in there?” His sharp eyes didn’t miss a thing.
“Yes.” I wasn’t going to let Mack get the best of me. Besides whatever Sin was involved in, I was too.
We were in this together.
He pressed a kiss to my lips which made me smile genuinely. I touched my lips with my free hand.
“What’s that for?” I was breathless.
“I love you.” The intensity in his eyes made me swoon. I wanted to wrap myself in the feeling and never let it go.
“I love you too.”
Our eyes held. We still had so much to say but not here. Not while running the risk someone would over hear us.
Sin squeezed my hand a little tighter in his, before I followed his lead back to the living room where Sienna was waiting with Mack.
The tension hung in between the two siblings when we returned. Sienna was smiling but it didn’t reach her eyes. Mack didn’t bother to hide his simmering anger. Something had gone down between them while I had been gone.
Mack stood abruptly. “Let’s leave the women to talk while we discuss business.”
Sin looked to Sienna whose feature were tight.
He released my hand. “I’ll be back soon.”
I didn’t want to be alone with Sienna. What if I said something I wasn’t supposed to. My anxiety sky rocketed but I let him leave.
I sat down on the sofa beside Sienna, unsure of what to say.
“I apologize for my brother’s behavior.” She sighed and rubbed her temple as she sank back into the sofa.
I studied her. “He isn’t the trusting type.”
“That’s an understatement,” she said with a grin. “If he expects the worst from everyone, he’ll never be disappointed.”
“Does it have something to do with his childhood?” I ventured the question, feeling like if I knew more about Mack it would make it easier to handle.
She sighed. “Yes. We didn’t come from the best home and being the eldest took its toll on him. He took the brunt of it, and shielded me as much as he could.”
I stayed silent watching her as she shifted to face me.
“He isn’t a bad person, he is just a good person a lot of bad shit happened to, you know?”
I wasn’t sure there was a difference but I nodded.
“He did what was necessary to take care of me.”
She was opening up to me, she was completely different to her highly suspicious sibling.
“I have an over bearing brother who wants to run my life,” I murmured. “I have a love hate relationship with him at times but I know no matter what happens, he will always be there.”
She smiled. “Then you get it.”
I nodded. “My parents were murdered when I was young and Connor stepped up to take care of me. It was tough.”
“I’m sorry that happened to you,” she said quietly.
I shrugged. “Bad things happen to people every day.”
“Our parents were the bad people,” Sienna sighed. “Mack protected me. He made sure I always felt safe and cared for no matter what was happening. But there was no one to do that for him.”
I couldn’t imagine my parents being anything else other than what I had experienced. Sin’s mother had neglected him while desperately using alcohol to numb her pain. We had all experienced some sort of trauma from our childhoods but I could see the haunted look in Sienna’s eyes. Whatever had happened in their household, I bet was much worse than what Sin had born the brunt of in his childhood.
“That’s why he is the way he is.”
“Some people shouldn’t be parents.” Being pregnant and loving my baby without even having met him or her, I couldn’t imagine what Sienna and Mack had been through.
“I never thought I would see Sin in love with someone.”
There was no jealousy, only a genuineness.
“When I first met him, it wasn’t something I wanted either.”
She smiled. “You’re good for each other. I’ve never seen him so at peace before. There were times I never thought he would make it into adulthood. He was pretty reckless.”
I felt like I was getting insight into the Sin before I met him and I was more than curious.
“What was he like?” I found myself asking.
She smiled. “Fiercely loyal but a risk taker. Sometimes it felt like he had a death wish. Like the world didn’t care about him and he didn’t care about it. He was a heartbreaker and had an endless supply of girls wanting to claim his heart but none of them succeeded. He was far too cynical then. Like Mack.”
My heart ached for that boy, the boy Sin had been growing up. Maybe if Sin had been completely alone, who knows how he would have turned out. I honestly believed, if he hadn’t had Slater, he would be very different to who he was now.
“Slater kept Sin from spiraling into a world he would never have been able to escape.”
At the mention of Slater I smiled. He was a good guy but as haunted by his childhood as Sin was. I thought it was strange how some people turned out despite similar struggles in their pasts.
“Slater is a good guy.”
Sienna smiled. “Maybe if Mack had had a Slater things would have been different.”
There was a faraway look in her eyes, like she was yearning for a different time or memory.
Our conversation had become deep and heavy. I didn’t want to be reminded of my past or Sin’s. I wanted to concentrate on what we had now and the future we had together.
All we needed was to get through this. Happiness was within our reach.
“But Mack didn’t. And there is no changing who is he is now.”
I frowned slightly, wanting to probe her statement but unsure of whether it was a good idea to.
“He seems a bit distrustful,” I dismissed, hoping she might elaborate.
Sienna blinked and then smiled, like she was back in the present and not lost in her mind.
“Mack is not the brother I grew up with anymore. He is different now.”
I wasn’t sure what that meant, so I kept quiet waiting to see if she would say more.
“Sometimes I wonder if I know him at all.” There was a sadness there that made me feel sorry for her.
As annoying as Connor could be, I could not imagine not being close to him, even if he did interfere when I didn’t want him to.
“Sometimes I think the brother who did everything he could to save me, couldn’t save himself.”
I didn’t know what to say.
“Maybe he is still in there somewhere. Maybe he just needs to be reminded of who he was,” I murmured.
She studied me thoughtfully. “Maybe.”